Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Wasp Stings’ and other poems

By: Galen Cunningham

Wasp Stings

Wasp sting litanies across hairs strong
enough to twine earth and hell;
wings with wind strong enough to take
roofs off the stone baked houses.
Their needling alarm will wake
one’s senses to the burning sun,
leaving a thick and red corona
to mark the spot where the damned hold on.

The monarch was a friend of question,
until it came chrysalis wisdom.
He does not lilt swift maximum winds,
but crunches Whitman’s leaves.
He’ll be a fly or spider for Dickinson,
anything to escape the Tempest
or horrible Caliban, who eats Praying
Mantises, holiest of the insects.

Many needles vacillate between being
natures thorny rose acupuncturist
or vaccinators for the spreading fevers
winding chills down bluish hearts.
There is no malaria in the water here,
but mosquitoes want our blood,
and stagnation is no better than stings
from a wasp or friend in Herod.
Glassed green grassy shards of earthy
autumn hive haystacks spooling
threads from a spider nest eating tight
globular crystals of some strange
death of perhaps a pearl that became
a locust mesmerized magnetized
by diamonds weaving the silk matrix
too awed to fight death’s embrace.


Icarus, An Elegy for Jared Taylor

We watched you rise above the labyrinthine
din of society, time, and the shared mind;
wings spread wide, headed towards the sun,
until you became a speck in its fiery gaze.
Your pupils, larger than Roswellian saucers,
reflected the abyss before you left its reach.
I saw within them much beauty; was moved
when I learned it did not come from Aphrodite,
but great unsmiling tragedy—straight from
Aristotle’s playbook, like a robbed nightingale,
or a demigod drowned in his father’s ambrosia.
We watched you rise into the brilliant dawn,
soaring like a specter beyond the sprawling
tumult mazing us into a maize for the gods
to walk through; sift through; split at wish.

You rose beyond the walls of the labyrinth,
like a bird, freed from its cage and sorrow.
You soared out of the trap, but gazed too long
into another, dazzled by the light too soon.
You were just about to reach the silver lining,
when you dropped like a torch in the firmament.
You fell out of sight. The wings with which
you soared into the blue and spacious light
melted at the sinews, feathers, and stems;
dripped like a hot candle; fell like a roman
candle, flecking the wind with ember ends.

The poets forget you were wont to be low
as you were to be high in the dangling sky.
The dreamers of adrenaline, and romancers
of suicide forget that you sighed like one
freshly released from the labyrinths prison;
that you purred like a lover meeting the air
in which all love breathes into living life;
that you moaned like a dove swimming in
the undulating breeze as it lifted you high;
and that you harked and shrieked like a hawk
who finds the summit and cannot go further.

You soared above the wall with your father,
but without his temperance or calm precision.
You flew without balance, but burned like
an Angel escaping Earth’s passionate horror,
like one forced to stare too long into nothing,
like the immortal soul burning its outer mold,
now reduced to a splash in the ocean of time.
You were stepping down the stairs, or were
you rising from them? You were going down,
or were you going too high? You missed a
step—skipped a whole staircase—pummeled
into a bag of bricks; tripped by space, time,
materiality, air, and the city as it enclosed
you in opium smoke, fame, illusion, and the
love of woman drifting to close to the sun.
What else did they say of you: what is truth?
Does it matter that you made all of us soar,
that our spirit, with yours, still seeks the light?


A Psalm for Winter

The church twines above the trees,
but we cannot see its Calvinist cross
stuck like a flagpole in permafrost.
Our loose, red and blistered hands
reach for the sun spilling through
the deciduously frightened forest—
through stained glassed windows
without sainted murals—past heads
trembling in the foggy morning.

We sing an anglicized, modernized,
sanitized version of the psalm,
but our voices are chilled, misty
thoughts; singing dully like a
chorus bereft of the tensioned lines
existent in Davidic ecstasy, sorrow,
poetry, war, eroticism, praise;
like we could not read the spirit,
or carry its voice in our throat.
Our dream, a pageant of myth;
mere dust and rot to body’s soul;
a permanently frozen exegesis
of what it is to be hollowed
returns to the hallow ground
of trees with white barren limbs
that look like icy hand’s reaching,
palms spread, for a hint of the sun.


  1. Beautifully written. The description enabled me to relate with the poems through my own experiences. Please keep writing!

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